This title is somewhat deceptive, I’ll admit. Maybe. After all, Paul says “Follow me as I follow Christ,” right? When I say “don’t follow teachers, preachers and personalities” what I desire to do, and I desire for you also, is compare everything and everyone, including your own thoughts, speech and actions, against Scripture. When Paul says “Follow me, as I follow Christ,” he’s encouraging us to follow Jesus, and those we follow should be followed AS WE FOLLOW CHRIST. Compare us to Scripture, see how we hold up, and encourage us to keep following the example set before us in Jesus Christ.
I say this because we can get caught up in teachers and preachers. Churches have built their communities around personalities, and when a preacher moves to a new assignment, or dies, or is caught up in a scandal, how much does it rock a Church community? I’ve seen people leave congregations, I’ve even had things say about me (like, “what is little Tommy going to do, that is his favorite youth leader!”), and those moments have made me feel like an utter failure. The Church is built on Jesus Christ, not Brian Doyle, or any other preacher! I will be gone some day, so if my ministry is built on anything but Jesus Christ, it’s useless, and will have no eternal impact. So I need to examine the Scriptures, and I need to seek out what is going on there.
As people who follow Jesus, we need to think Biblically. Teachers are well and good, but we’re all accountable to God’s word, and so are those who follow us. So be in the word. Test us against the word. Know the word so well that if we’re in error, or blatantly teaching falsehoods, you can know, by the word of God, if we’re in the wrong. Be people of God’s word. Hold leaders accountable by God’s word. Follow leaders according to God’s word. Think, act, and adjust your emotions based on God’s word. That is the point of “follow me as I follow Christ.”
1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.